Military Hygiene Rules You Might Not Have Heard Before

When you think of the armed forces, it's easy to imagine a ton of strict regulations and guidelines. After all, the people who defend the world go into some pretty dangerous situations - and the last thing they need to worry about is a rash that won't heal. So, understandably, military hygiene rules are pretty exacting. And we're not just talking about brushing your teeth.

From how to properly trim facial hair to dealing with local wildlife, hygiene in the military is a pretty serious thing. What's weird is just how specific some of these guidelines can get. It's like they gathered a bunch of generals in a room and made a list of all the little things they've seen soldiers do, then tried to make a guide to prevent all of it.

So, whether you've seen these rules in action or you're just curious, check out this list of weird hygiene regulations.

Photo: The US Army / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

  • Sleep Like Your Life Depends On It

    Soldiers must keep up with their food, water, and ammunition needs. But sleep is just as important, to the point where leadership insists you get at least 7 hours of sleep each day. According to the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC):

    Sleep is best viewed as a critical item of resupply like water, food, fuel, and ammunition. The longer a Trainee/Soldier goes without sleep, the more their thinking slows and becomes confused, and the more mistakes they will make. Leaders need to plan adequate sleep for themselves and their Trainee/Soldiers in training and tactical environments.

  • Use Absorbent Body Powder Like It's Going Out Of Style

    Moisture can cause infections, bad smells, and any number of health problems. So, the Army encourages the application of body powder "to areas where wetness is a problem such as underarms, between the thighs and buttocks," and for women, "under the breasts."

  • When In Doubt, Urinate As Much As Possible

    When In Doubt, Urinate As Much As Possible
    Photo: Sgt Brian Gamble / Wikimedia Commons / OGL

    Dehydration is a serious threat out in the field. To make matters worse, some troops tend to hold it in when they have to urinate. That combined with drinking less water sets the stage for a variety of infections. So, the order of the day is to drink and urinate as much as possible. Chug! Chug! Chug! 

  • You Need To Get Regular Haircuts

    You Need To Get Regular Haircuts
    Photo: Damon J. Moritz / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    It's a staple of modern service organizations to prescribe short, neat hairstyles, but how do they maintain that fresh look? Different outfits have different rules, but the standard requires you to get extremely specific haircuts - although in recent years they have made some noteworthy exceptions

  • Wash Your Hands After Pretty Much Everything

    Wash Your Hands After Pretty Much Everything
    Photo: Sgt Jez Doak / Wikimedia Commons / OGL


    In order to stop the spread of disease, one hygiene manual states you need to wash your hands:

    - Before eating or snacking.

    - After eating or snacking.  

    - Before handling or preparing food.

    - After using the latrine.

    - After handling anything that could potentially transfer germs.

    - Frequently during the work day to keep your hands free of germs.

    - After coming into contact with any local flora or fauna.  

    - After physical contact with local nationals.

    We just hope there's enough soap.

  • Wearing Cologne Or Perfume In The Field Is Pretty Much Forbidden

    While it seems strange that anyone would wear fragrances during operations, the practice is banned regardless. They may draw more attention from the insects than any potential romantic interest. Scented soaps are also highly discouraged.